WASHINGTON—President Trump defended a conversation with his Ukrainian counterpart as “totally appropriate” and reiterated his call for Kiev to investigate his potential 2020 opponent Joe Biden, as lawmakers look into the president’s and his lawyer’s efforts to pressure the Ukrainian government to undertake such a probe.
Mr. Trump declined to say whether in a July conversation he had asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to have his government investigate Mr. Biden, the former vice president and now Democratic presidential candidate. But, Mr. Trump told reporters Friday: “Somebody ought to look into that,” referring to Mr. Biden.
Any probe of Mr. Biden centers on the then-vice president’s efforts to seek the ouster of former Ukrainian prosecutor general Viktor Shokin, who had investigated a private Ukrainian gas company, Burisma Group, of which Mr. Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, was a board member.
Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani has accused Mr. Biden of acting to protect his son, even though Mr. Shokin had already completed his investigation of Burisma Group before he left office. Mr. Biden has said he sought Mr. Shokin’s ouster because he wasn’t doing enough to investigate corruption.
Yuriy Lutsenko, Ukraine’s current prosecutor general, told Bloomberg News in May he had no evidence of wrongdoing by Mr. Biden or his son.
Mr. Trump, during an event at the White House with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, said he didn’t know the identity of the whistleblower. But he also accused the whistleblower of partisan motivations and said his conversation with Mr. Zelensky “couldn’t have been better.”
Asked whether the whistleblower complaint involved the July call with Mr. Zelensky, the president said: “I really don’t know.”
Michael Atkinson, the Trump-appointed inspector general of the intelligence community, met Thursday morning with the House Intelligence Committee in a closed-session. Mr. Atkinson declined to tell lawmakers the substance of the complaint or if it involves the president, but he did say it involves more than one episode and is based on a series of events, according to multiple people who attended or were briefed on the meeting.
Jason Johnson: Part of what makes the President so dangerous is that he is not angry at real problems, he rails against personal opponents.
Trump doesn’t want a free press; he wants free propaganda.
.. It is simply not healthy for the country to have a president stuck perpetually in attack mode, fighting enemies real and imagined, pushing a toxic agenda that mixes the exaltation of grievance and the grinding of axes.
The president’s recent rallies have come to resemble orgies for Donald Trump’s ego, spaces in which he can receive endless, unmeasured adulation and in which the crowds can gather for a revival of an anger that registers as near-religious. They can experience a communal affirmation that they are not alone in their intolerance, outrage and regression.
At these moments, the preacher and the pious share a spiritual moment of darkness.
.. They believe that America was founded as a white, Christian nation and should be governed as one. They pine over lost culture and lost heritage. They rage against blossoming minority groups and immigrants.
.. He does none of this because he is brave and strong, but rather precisely because he isn’t. His attacks are a compensatory disguise for his own fear and insecurity.
Trump is weak. Very weak. Unbelievably weak. But he knows now that his weakness is bolstered by the incredible power of the presidency and the overwhelming economic and military power of the country.
.. As part of our continuing effort to resist the exhausting and numbing effects of living under a relentlessly abusive and degrading president, we present, for the third time in nine months, an updated guide to what Republicans now consider to be acceptable behavior from the commander in chief. As before, these examples, drawn from incidents or disclosures in the last three-plus months, do not concern policy decisions — only the president’s words and actions.
Imply, without evidence, that a television anchor was involved in a murder.. Call the American justice system a “joke” and a “laughingstock”
Have your lawyer pay $130,000 in hush money to a porn star with whom you had an affair while your wife was at home caring for your new son
.. Continue to call for a criminal investigation of your former political opponent, whom you call the “worst (and biggest) loser of all time” a year after the election.. Tell your rich friends after your tax bill passes, “You all just got a lot richer”.. Defend your mental competency by saying that you are “like, really smart” and a “very stable genius”.. Threaten to take away a TV network’s broadcast license for reporting on your deliberations about the nation’s nuclear arsenal.. Threaten to use federal tax law to punish a professional sports league for letting its players express political opinions
Tell reporters that “It’s frankly disgusting the way the press is able to write whatever they want to write, and people should look into it”
Warn American citizens in Puerto Rico, only weeks after a catastrophic hurricane, that the federal government can’t help them out “forever,” even as you tell victims of a hurricane in Texas, “We are with you today, we are with you tomorrow, and we will be with you EVERY SINGLE DAY AFTER, to restore, recover, and REBUILD!”.. Spend one-third of the first year of your taxpayer-funded presidency visiting your own golf courses or properties.. While debating policy with lawmakers on live television, accidentally agree to a deal that is the opposite of what your party wants, get corrected by the House majority leader, and then release an official White House transcript that omits the exchange
.. Claim that a new tax bill you support will “cost me a fortune,” even though it will probably save you millions, but who knows since you refuse to release your tax returns.. Try to stop the publication of a book that says critical things about you and your administration.. Accuse an F.B.I. agent of treason without evidence.. Watch four to eight hours of cable television a day, mostly the channel that feeds you self-serving propaganda.. Choose for federal judgeships nominees who cannot identify or explain basic legal concepts, and who were rated “not qualified” by the American Bar Association.. Falsely claim that you have signed more legislation than any first-year president, when in fact you have signed less than any post-World War II president.. Taunt a foreign leader who claims he has nuclear weapons by saying your “nuclear button” is “a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!”.. Criticize a law that your party firmly supports, then, two hours later, reverse yourself.. Pick nominees to the federal bench who call a sitting Supreme Court justice a “judicial prostitute” and refer to transgender children as part of “Satan’s plan”.. Campaign hard for a Senate candidate; then when he appears likely to lose, say “I might have made a mistake” and later delete your tweets supporting him .. Behave so erratically and irresponsibly that senators of your own party resort to saying you’re treated like someone at “an adult day-care center” to keep you from starting World War III.. Spend one of every three days as president visiting at least one of your own properties.. Publicly and privately humiliate your own attorney general for recusing himself from an investigation into your campaign.. Say nothing when a foreign leader’s bodyguards brutally attack peaceful protesters in the streets of Washington, D.C... Encourage police officers not to be “too nice” when apprehending criminal suspects.. Help draft a misleading statement about the purpose of a meeting between your son, other top campaign aides and representatives of a rival foreign power intent on interfering in the election
Deliver a speech to the Boy Scouts of America that includes mockery of a former president and winking references to sexual orgies, and then lie by claiming that the head of that organization called and told you it was the best speech ever delivered in Boy Scout history
Hang a framed copy of a fake Time magazine cover celebrating your business acumen in your golf clubs around the world
Mock a female television anchor’s appearance, saying the anchor was “bleeding badly from a face-lift” at a holiday gathering at your private resort
Force your cabinet members to take turns extolling your virtues in front of television cameras
Continue to deny that Russia attempted to influence the presidential election, despite the consensus of the American intelligence community — and yet also blame your predecessor for not doing anything to stop that interference
Grant temporary White House press credentials to a website that, among other things, claims that Sept. 11 was an “inside job” and that the massacre of 20 schoolchildren in Newtown, Conn., was a hoax.. Pardon a former sheriff who was convicted of criminal contempt of court for refusing to obey the law
Continue to repeat, with admiration, a false story about an American military general committing war crimes
Mock the mayor of a world city for his careful, sober response to a terrorist attack.. Admit to trying to intimidate a key witness in a federal investigation.. Profit off the presidency, accepting millions of dollars from foreign government officials, businesses, politicians and other supporters who pay a premium to patronize your properties and get access to you — while also attempting to hide the visitor lists at some of those properties from the public.. Promise to drain the swamp, then quietly grant ethics waivers to multiple former industry lobbyists who want to work in your administration
Accuse a former president, without evidence, of an impeachable offense.. Allow White House staff members to use their personal email for government business
Claim, without evidence, that millions of people voted illegally
Fail to fire high-ranking members of your national security team for weeks, even after knowing they lied to your vice president and exposed themselves to blackmail
Refuse to release tax returns
Hide the White House visitors’ list from the public
Vacation at one of your private residences nearly every weekend
Use an unsecured personal cellphone
Criticize specific businesses for dropping your family members’ products.. Hire relatives for key White House posts, and let them meet with foreign officials and engage in business at the same time
Promote family businesses on federal government websites.. Compare the U.S. intelligence community to Nazis.. Share highly classified information with a hostile foreign power without the source’s permission
last week, Poland challenged the very notion of what it means to be part of the bloc when the country pushed ahead with controversial measures to overhaul its judicial system and essentially put the courts under the control of the governing party. The action set off unprecedented censure from the European Union.
For the first time, the European Commission, the bloc’s executive arm, used the most powerful threat in its arsenal to try to stop the measure, invoking Article 7 of the European Union treaty, which could strip Poland of its voting rights. It accused the government of trying to undermine core democratic values.
.. it also challenged the very notion of how effectively the bloc can deal with countries that step out of line. If Brussels fails to curb what it sees as behavior that undermines democratic values in Poland, other nations with their own populist leaders, like the Czech Republic and Romania, will be emboldened to chart their own course.
.. Poland is not Hungary, where Prime Minister Viktor Orban frequently antagonizes European Union leaders and cozies up to President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.
.. But when the Constitution was enacted in 1997, no right-wing party was represented, including Center Agreement, a Christian democratic party and the predecessor to Law and Justice, the current ruling party.
“They refused to give this Constitution legitimacy,”
.. this lack of inclusion led to a bitterness that still fuels the governing party and its powerful leader, Jaroslaw Kaczynski.
.. When Law and Justice briefly held power before, from 2005 to 2007, its leader, Mr. Kaczynski, found himself stymied by the courts at every turn. He coined a term for what he viewed as obstructionism: prawny imposybilizm, or legal impossibilism.
.. The first move was to dismantle the Constitutional Tribunal, which is empowered to review Poland’s laws. They removed unfriendly justices and ensured the once-powerful body was little more than a rubber stamp for the party
“The mechanics of this attack on the Supreme Court are very similar,” he said. “First, you have an attack on judges.”
.. “The whole idea behind these two bills is to have full control over the national judiciary council, which has control over appointing judges,”
.. “And if you have control over the selecting committee, you need vacancies.”
.. He pointed to a new provision that allows for something known as a special extraordinary appeal, which would essentially allow any case over the past 20 years to be reopened.
.. “I am ashamed now,” he said. “We were a paragon of transformation of the rule of law. That has all changed.”