Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Trump confounds the science - a great parody

Scriber’s output these days is low due to competition from the impeachment hearings. But I had to do this one.

Great Simon and Garfunkel “Sound of Silence” parody about Trump is a great find - by friend of Scriber Miriam Lindmeier..

There are some great music parodies coming from Parody Project, which look at today’s politics in all of its strangeness. “Confounds the Science” is about Trump’s tweets and stupidity. Here are the first two verses:

Hello darkness my old friend.

It’s time for him to tweet again,

but first he’ll have to check in with Fox news

‘cause that’s the only place he gets his clues.

That’s how things get planted in his brain,

where they remain,

and it confounds the science.

The problem is he’s not alone.

He tweets to people on his phone

that global warming is a giant hoax

perpetuated by the liberal folks,

and he hires people that all think the same,

that play his game

and it confounds the science.

Monday, November 18, 2019

All the ways the Trumpian defense by the Cracker Graham crumbles

U. S. Sen. Lindsey ‘Cracker’ Graham Says He Won’t Accept Senate Trial Until Whistleblower Is Exposed (from TalkingPointsMemo).

Within hours of acting ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor’s public testimony Wednesday, during which he dropped an explosive new claim about a previously unknown conversation that President Trump had with EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) declared that he’s still on a crusade to expose the identity of the whistleblower whose complaint sparked the impeachment inquiry.

(From Fox News via TPM) Graham: “I will not accept a trial in the Senate until I know who the whistleblower is.”

Let’s stop there for the moment for counterpoints.

First, the “explosive new claim” will go public this week in testimony by people with direct knowledge of that conversation. So the hearsay defense is itself DOA.

Second, the investigation is way beyond what the whistleblower contributed. Those allegations have been substantiated several times by other people with direct knowledge of what went on in the July 25 conversation. So the only reason for obtaining the identity of the whistleblower is retribution by Trump and his sycophants and that in itself would be breaking the law.

There is more.

On Tuesday, the New York Times reported that Trump privately discussed with aides whether to fire Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson for reporting the whistleblower’s complaint to Congress, which addressed the President’s now-infamous July call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Third, that confirms my assertion above about Trump’s malicious intentions with respect to the whistleblower.

And, if all that were not bad enough …

On Thursday, the Washington Post reported that some Republicans are mulling delaying and extending the impeachment trial in the Senate to force Democratic senators in the 2020 presidential race to stay in Washington and away from early primary states.

The rest of the TPM reporting follows the break.

Trump's smear of Yovanovitch is really about himself

The New Yorker satirist, Andy Borowitz, reports on Trump’s psychological projection onto former Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch in “Everywhere She Went Turned Bad,” Says Man with Six Bankruptcies.

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—In a blistering tweet on Friday, the former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, was accused of leaving a trail of destruction by a man with six bankruptcies and multiple business failures.

“Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad,” wrote the man, who ran the now defunct United States Football League into the ground and paid twenty-five million dollars to settle fraud charges against a fake university bearing his name.

“She started off in Somalia, how did that go?” tweeted the man, whose lengthy roster of bankruptcies includes the Trump Taj Mahal (1991), Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino (1992), the Plaza Hotel (1992), Trump Castle Hotel and Casino (1992), Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts (2004), and Trump Entertainment Resorts (2009).

“Then fast forward to Ukraine, where the new Ukrainian President spoke unfavorably about her,” continued the man, who founded such business fiascoes as the Trump Shuttle airline, Trump Vodka, and Trump Steaks.

At the House of Representatives, Representative Devin Nunes vigorously defended the man’s controversial tweets. “He is calling out someone for creating disasters everywhere she goes, and no one is more qualified to talk about that than he is,” Nunes said.

Add to all that the dissolution of the Trump Foundation for cause and the fine paid by Trump.

Just remember Rick Wilson’s observation: everything Trump touches dies.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

A time line for everything you need to know about the Ukraine bribery scandal

Cinco amigos
The cinco amigos:
those who Trump never met

The AZ Blue Meanie at Blog for Arizona provides a lengthy time line covering Everything you need to know about the Ukraine scandal and impeachment. Here is just a small part of it covering the definition of bribery and as practiced by Trump, Giuliani, and the others shown in this photo. (Top level block quotes are suppressed. Following is quoted from the Blue Meanie’s post.)

The other insane talking point coming from Republicans and Trump TV is that extortion is not in the constitution and neither is attempted bribery (as grounds for impeachment), and in any case, Trump never received the payoff he asked for. Laura Ingraham: “Attempted bribery isn’t in the Constitution”.

Bribery is expressly stated as grounds for impeachment in the Constitution, and it is the solicitation of a bribe that is the offense, one does not have to actually receive anything in return. The Founders Would Have Called Out Trump for Bribery:

The bribery charge sticks to Trump whether one looks to federal law or to the understanding of bribery in the era of the Framers.

Aaron Blake reports on current law at The Washington Post:

The federal bribery statute says someone has committed bribery if he or she is a “public official” who “directly or indirectly, corruptly demands, seeks, receives, accepts, or agrees to receive or accept anything of value personally … in return for … being influenced in the performance of any official act.” The argument here would be that Trump sought politically helpful investigations from Ukraine in exchange for releasing military aid and/or granting a much-sought Oval Office meeting for its president, Volodymyr Zelensky. To date, six officials have said there was some kind of quid pro quo there.

As for bribery as the Framers understood it, a trio of attorneys writing at Lawfare quote 18th- and early–19th-century legal treatises to show that the constitutional understanding was even broader than what federal law now prohibits––put simply, bribery was “understood as an officeholder’s abuse of the power of an office to obtain a private benefit rather than for the public interest.”

They go on to explain:

The understanding of bribery at the Founding maps perfectly onto Trump’s conduct in his call with Zelensky. As noted above, Trump made clear to Zelensky that he was asking him for a “favor”—not a favor to benefit the United States as a whole or the public interest, but a favor that would accrue to the personal benefit of Trump by harming his political rival. Trump’s request that Zelensky work with his private attorney, Rudy Giuliani, underscores that Trump was seeking a private benefit. And Trump was not seeking this “undue reward” (to quote “Russell on Crimes” and the Delaware statute) as a mere aside unrelated to the president’s official role. Rather, he did so in the course of an official diplomatic conversation with a head-of-state.

In fact, Rudy Giuliani has since stated, “The investigation I conducted concerning 2016 Ukrainian collusion and corruption, was done solely as a defense attorney to defend my client against false charges, that kept changing as one after another were disproven,” characterizing his own actions as something not done to benefit the American people, but done “solely” to benefit Trump.

The Lawfare authors continue:

The transcript makes clear that Trump tied together the request for a personal favor with the delivery of military aid. But even if he had not made such a direct connection, this sort of corrupt use of public office to obtain a private benefit fits squarely within the definition of bribery when the Constitution was written.

Moreover, given the specifics of the allegations against President Trump, it is noteworthy that nothing worried the Founders more than the possibility that the president would be corrupted by a foreign power. As Gouverneur Morris said about impeachment during the Constitutional Convention, “[The President] may be bribed by a greater interest to betray his trust; and no one would say that we ought to expose ourselves to the danger of seeing the first Magistrate in foreign pay without being able to guard [against] it by displacing him.”

In reference to other Trump scandals, a debate about what constitutes “high Crimes and Misdemeanors” [abuse of power] may be necessary. But on the Ukraine matter, that debate doesn’t matter. What matters is whether Trump is guilty of “Bribery” as it is used in the Constitution. It would appear that he is.

(Scriber: See the original post from the Blue Meanie for citations.)

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Trump performs witness intimidation in real time. Yovanovitch answers with uncynical outrage.

A few days ago Trump attended a baseball game and got booed. Friday former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch publicly testified at the impeachment inquiry and got a standing ovation. Following are some observations on Yovanovitch’s testimony … and Trump’s further attempts to intimidate her.

Kathleen Parker (Washington Post) reports on how Trump saw the Yovanovitch hearing and just couldn’t bear being left out.

As former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch was testifying Friday at the congressional impeachment hearings, the tyrannical 2-year-old occupying the Oval Office busied himself on Twitter trying to smear her. Presumably, there are no grown-ups left to mind him.

There he was, the president of the United States, apparently watching the proceedings, and he couldn’t bear being left out. He hurled insults at Yovanovitch in what House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) described as “witness intimidation in real time.” Not only was this an outrage bordering on criminal, Trump’s Twitter-tantrum conceivably could lead to an article of impeachment.

Aw, what’s another article or two?

This wasn’t Trump’s first time trying to bully — and, yes, intimidate — this highly respected public servant. Yovanovitch was an anti-corruption reformer in her role in war-torn Ukraine. But in May, for seemingly personal reasons, Trump fired her.

Ironically, Yovanovitch had learned of her ouster from Ukraine while honoring a murdered Ukrainian anti-corruption activist. She was told that she should get on a plane home that very day, according to her testimony. Trump likes this sort of thing, too. Remember that when James B. Comey was removed as FBI director two years ago, he was giving a pep talk to employees in the Los Angeles field office as wall-mounted televisions behind him began to flash “Comey Resigns.”

In her damning testimony last month during closed hearings, Yovanovitch said her firing was engineered in part by Giuliani, along with Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, who were arrested last month on campaign-finance violations just as they were about to board a plane out of the country with one-way tickets. She claimed that the trio was conspiring with corrupt, old-guard Ukrainians to get her replaced with someone who would be more favorable to their “business dealings” — importing natural gas into Ukraine.

Plainly, Ukrainian natural gas is the stock to watch. For now, after the first two days of public hearings, it would seem that Trump and Giuliani are the bad news — and maybe soon they’ll be “going through some things” themselves.

Susan B. Glasser, in the New Yorker, reminds us that it is still possible to feel outrage citing In Trump’s Jaded Capital, Marie Yovanovitch’s Uncynical Outrage. A fired Ambassador demonstrates that it is apparently still possible to be shocked by the President – even through the “smear” conducted by Trump and his henchmen.

For a few hours on Friday, an unassuming career diplomat named Marie (Masha) Yovanovitch did something that I thought had become impossible in Donald Trump’s Washington: she managed to hold on to her amazement and outrage at the President’s amazing and outrageous actions. In this hyper-partisan, hyper-political time, she was neither. Nearly three years into this Presidency, that is no given. A state of weary cynicism has taken hold regarding Trump, among his supporters and also his critics. He is what he is. What can we do about it? Even impeachment has quickly come to be seen through this lens. Members of Congress are all too likely to vote the party line. Does any of it matter?

In hours of spellbinding testimony, on the second day of the House’s public impeachment hearings, Yovanovitch offered a decisive rebuttal to that way of thinking. She said that she had been surprised and appalled when Trump succumbed to a foreign disinformation campaign and fired her as the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine based on false allegations trafficked by Rudy Giuliani, his private lawyer. She had taken on corrupt interests inside Ukraine, and those parties had, in turn, targeted her—and, unbelievably, it had worked. The President, the most powerful man in the world, had gone along with it. “It was terrible,” she said. Yovanovitch said that she was shocked when Secretary of State Mike Pompeo failed to issue a statement in her defense, although she had spent thirty-three years in the Foreign Service. She said that she was intimidated and incredulous when the President attacked her in a phone call with a foreign leader. She said that she felt threatened. These are simple truths, which is why they were so powerful. So was the question she posed to the members of the House Intelligence Committee arrayed on the dais in front of her: “How could our system fail like this?” That, of course, is a question for which Americans as yet have no real answer.

… Yovanovitch’s appearance was ultimately about what the hell the country is supposed to do with a President who is so manifestly unpresidential. Friday offered a chance to reflect on Trump’s conduct, to consider the extent of his boorishness, his poor judgment, his ignorance, his recklessness, and his callous disregard for anything other than his own personal interests. There will be many days and weeks to come in which to hash out what, if anything, in all this saga involving Ukraine, should be considered impeachable by Congress. But that is not the real import of Friday’s hearing, which was a rare opportunity for America to stop and take stock of Trump and what he has wrought. This was a day to contemplate the excesses of Donald John Trump.

For those who wondered about what an impeachment in the Twitter era would look like, the answer came hurtling from Trump’s phone at 10:01 a.m. The President of the United States was hate-tweeting a witness in real time, while she was testifying. In the tweet, he appeared to blame Yovanovitch for all the troubles of the countries to which she had been assigned in the course of her career. “Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad,” he tweeted. Her service in war-torn Somalia had clearly stung the Vietnam draft dodger in the Oval Office, and he wrote, “She started off in Somalia, how did that go?” He finished off with a reminder of his “absolute right” to hire and fire Ambassadors.

This, if you haven’t detected it, is a classic case of psychological projection. Rick Wilson has observed that “everything Trump touches dies.” Trump is projecting his own personal malicious toxicity upon Yovanovitch.

Glasser concludes:

Yovanovitch’s firing has always struck me as problematic for Trump. Republican committee members did not attempt to defend it, and instead simply fell back on Trump’s right to fire her. Yovanovitch skewered that excuse after her G.O.P. questioners reminded her one too many times that Trump held this right. “The President has the right to withdraw an Ambassador at any time, for any reason,” Yovanovitch said, “but what I do wonder is, why was it necessary to smear my reputation?”

Why indeed. Because that’s the way real “human scum” operates.

Check out House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff’s closing remarks on Friday. Then, as the proceedings ended, Watch as former Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch leaves the impeachment hearing to a standing ovation. Jen Hayden at Daily Kos reports.

Watching former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch testify before the House impeachment hearing, one thing became crystal clear: She is a highly competent, dedicated career diplomat who has put her entire life in service the United States, serving in the State Department for 33 years. Even as the president of the United States smeared her in real time during her testimony, and Republicans were asking questions meant to subtly call her judgment and motives into question, Yovanovitch responded with dignity and professionalism. It became evident that she is an extremely valuable asset to the State Department and this nation.

The audience at the hearing apparently agreed, because at the conclusion of her testimony, as Republicans continued to grandstand and shout over House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff’s closing gavel, huge applause broke out in the chamber as Yovanovitch stood up from the hot seat and started to leave the room.

Here are a few clips showing just how thunderous the applause was in the hearing room: clip1 and clip2.

Tonight, let’s toast Marie Yovanovitch and all the patriots (and their families) who serve so devotedly as members of our diplomatic corps, shall we?

Trump tweets witness intimidation while watching Yovanovitch testimony. Jeff Flake - Trump is 'incapable of controlling himself'

The HuffPost reports that Marie Yovanovitch explains how Trump opened the door for corruption. If a bad-faith smear campaign worked against her, it’ll work again, the ousted ambassador told lawmakers in an impeachment hearing.

President Donald Trump’s decision to remove the former ambassador to Ukraine from her post over bad-faith smears dramatically undermined U.S. efforts to fight corruption worldwide, she told Congress in a public impeachment hearing Friday morning.

Over hours of testimony, Marie Yovanovitch described how the Trump administration bought into and advanced a coordinated campaign of lies about her launched by a Ukrainian official accused of corruption, right-wing pundits and Trump’s own lawyer. Trump warned that Yovanovitch was “going to go through some things” on his now-infamous July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Sheryl Gay Stolberg reports in the NY Times that Ex-Envoy to Ukraine ‘Devastated’ as Trump Vilified Her. As Marie Yovanovitch testified, President Trump tweeted insults at her, drawing charges of witness intimidation.

In a proceeding full of high points, this one stands out.

Ms. Yovanovitch’s public testimony, which played out over more than five hours in a packed and hushed House Ways and Means Committee Room, was an indictment of foreign policy in the Trump era, outlining the harm to American diplomacy and national security by a president who embraced false claims to target his own officials representing the United States overseas.

“Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad,” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter, at the very moment that Ms. Yovanovitch was testifying about having felt threatened by the president. “She started off in Somalia, how did that go? Then fast forward to Ukraine, where the new Ukrainian President spoke unfavorably about her in my second phone call with him. It is a U.S. President’s absolute right to appoint ambassadors.”

Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California and the chairman of the Intelligence Committee, interrupted his counsel’s questioning to read the president’s words aloud to Ms. Yovanovitch and to ask for her reaction. There were audible gasps in the room as he did so.

"It’s very intimidating,” she replied, taken aback.

To that, Mr. Schiff replied gravely, “Some of us here take witness intimidation very, very seriously.”

Democrats said Mr. Trump’s comments were clear attempts by the president to intimidate a crucial witness in the impeachment inquiry and do the same to others who might yet come forward. They argued that the comments could constitute grounds for an article of impeachment against Mr. Trump.

Committee Chairman Schiff tweeted “Right now, President Trump is watching our hearing and tweeting baseless attacks against Ambassador Yovanovitch. This is witness intimidation in real time. And we won’t stand for it.”

Also in the Times, there is this by Michael D. Shear: With a Tweet, Trump Upends Republican Strategy for Dealing with Yovanovitch. House Republicans planned ahead, hoping to strike a respectful tone at Friday’s impeachment hearing. Mr. Trump’s tweet was exactly the kind of attack they had hoped to avoid.

(Thanks to Mrs. Scriber for this tip. Selected paragraphs were reordered by Scriber.)

Heading into Friday’s impeachment hearing, the Republican strategy for dealing with Marie L. Yovanovitch was simple: treat the ousted ambassador to Ukraine with respect during her testimony on Friday and avoid any appearance of bullying a veteran diplomat who had been vilified and driven from her post.

President Trump blew up the plan.

By repeating the same kind of verbal attack that made Ms. Yovanovitch a sympathetic witness for the Democrats in the first place, Mr. Trump undercut his own party’s best chance at minimizing the impact of her testimony. And he handed Democrats another new argument — that his tweet amounted to nothing less than witness intimidation that itself could become an article of impeachment.

“That was not part of the plan, obviously,” said Jeff Flake, the former Republican senator from Arizona, who clashed repeatedly with Mr. Trump before he retired in 2017. “He can’t help himself. You would think every instinct would be to lay off. She’s a sympathetic witness. But he seems just to be incapable of controlling himself.”

White House aides insisted on Friday that the president was too busy to watch the hearing, but in fact, he chose to watch Ms. Yovanovitch, who had stuck in his craw because he saw her as an obstacle to his desire to have investigations into Hunter Biden, the younger son of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., people close to Mr. Trump said.

[Trump’s] decision to fling the sharp-edged insult an hour into Ms. Yovanovitch’s testimony was the latest evidence — as if any more was needed — that Mr. Trump’s instincts are rarely in sync with the interests of his party.

On the first day of the impeachment hearings on Wednesday, the president had managed to avoid commenting about the two men who testified — William B. Taylor Jr., the top diplomat in Ukraine, and George P. Kent, a senior State Department official.

Mr. Trump’s congressional allies … had planned to be especially careful with Ms. Yovanovitch.

On Thursday, they met for several hours in Room HVC–215 of the Capitol for a practice session aimed at coordinating their overall message, with members who were not on the Intelligence Committee playing the parts of the former ambassador and Representative Adam B. Schiff, the Democratic chairman of the Intelligence committee.

And then the human volcano trashed all that with a single tweet.

Trump presents as having no self-control and being beyond control by even his closest advisors and members of his Trumpublican party. That impulsivity is a dangerous characteristic of a national leader. But that’s true only if Trump is a democratic leader. He is not. He is an autocrat, a dictator, a modern day King George.

Step back and look at the larger picture, the forrest, if you will. The inquiry is about whether we will still have a democracy at the end of 2020 and whether we are a nation of laws.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Wednesday was a 'bad, bad day' for Republicans but 'not as outlandish as it could be'

That second quote in this post’s title was uttered by the Republican staff lawyer, Stephen Castor. My sources saw nothing good in the performance of the GOPlins in the impeachment hearing. If you disagree, you should think about switching to a different vaping flavor.

AZ Blue Meanie at Blog for Arizona leads off with Some thoughts about the first impeachment hearing.

The first public impeachment hearing on Wednesday went exactly as I predicted it would. Democrats approached the proceedings with a high degree of sobriety and seriousness. Republicans engaged in disruption, distraction, and disinformation in an effort to undermine the credibility of the proceedings. They only served to undermine their own credibility.

The State Department experts on Ukraine, who are fact witnesses, laid out a concise statement of the facts of why they were “concerned” about President Trump extorting the president of Ukraine to open an investigation into unfounded conspiracy theories about Ukraine interference in the 2016 election, and unfounded conspiracy theories about Joe Biden, in exchange for (quid pro quo) a White House visit and the release of security assistance approved by Congress but delayed by the White House to exert leverage over Ukraine to get the investigations that Trump wanted.

Ambassador William Taylor, in particular, provided a detailed chronology of the events and explanation for his concerns. In his opening statement Taylor told members of Congress that President Donald Trump directed officials to tie foreign aid to his demands that Ukraine open an investigation into the Biden family and the 2016 election.

Ambassador Taylor added one “bombshell” detail not previously discussed in his earlier deposition, because he only recently learned of it. Impeachment hearings begin with new evidence of phone call implicating Trump in Ukraine controversy:

The call, overheard by one of Taylor’s aides, puts the president more squarely in the middle of the swirling Ukraine scandal … “The member of my staff could hear President Trump on the phone, asking Ambassador Sondland about ‘the investigations,’ ” Taylor told lawmakers, adding that he understood that they were following up on the matter a day after Trump spoke with Ukraine’s new leader, Volodymyr Zelensky. “Ambassador Sondland told President Trump that the Ukrainians were ready to move forward.” Taylor said that at the conclusion of the call, his aide asked Sondland what Trump thought of Ukraine and Sondland responded that “President Trump cares more about the investigations of Biden.”

David Holmes, the Counselor for Political Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine, and the aide referred to by Ambassador William Taylor, is expected to testify in a closed session deposition on Friday.

UPDATE: The AP reports, Second US official in Kyiv heard Trump call: The second diplomatic staffer also at the table was Suriya Jayanti, a foreign service officer based in Kyiv. Jayanti was in Washington last month and scheduled for a closed-door interview with impeachment investigators. But the deposition was canceled because of the funeral for former House Oversight Chair Elijah Cummings and has not yet been rescheduled.

This blows up one of the Republican defenses that this was a “rogue operation” by Rudy Giuliani, Gordon Sondland, and possibly Mick Mulvaney. Republicans Want to Throw Giuliani and Sondland Under the Bus. Their Plan Is Ridiculous. Taylor draws a direct line to President Trump as the director of this scheme.

And by the way, Ambassador Sondland’s cellphone call to Trump from Kyiv restaurant was a stunning breach of security exposing the conversation to surveillance by foreign intelligence services, including Russia’s, former U.S. officials said. (It is almost a certainty that U.S. intelligence surveillance also intercepts all cell phone calls in Ukraine.)

The NY Times Editorial Board thinks that the Republicans’ Best Defense Is a Bad Offense What the day’s impeachment hearings revealed.

One thing we all probably knew, if you want to mount a defense of anything, you would not pick Rep. Jim Jordan as your champion.

Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio set their tone and pace, apparently betting that a sustained note of incredulity and a motor-mouth delivery could distract listeners from the fragility of his arguments. He insisted the president couldn’t possibly have done anything wrong because, in the end, Ukraine got its money without committing to any investigations.

This point of view has radical implications for America’s system of justice and overcrowded prisons, if Mr. Jordan in fact truly believes that all inmates convicted of attempted crimes are innocent of wrongdoing.

Another thing the TV audience should have learned was that we owe a lot to stand-up public servants like George Kent and Bill Taylor.

[The TV audience] learned they are still served by people of integrity who are committed to advancing the national interest. The day’s two witnesses, George Kent and William Taylor, both deeply experienced diplomats, provided precise, scrupulously nonpartisan and damning testimony about the effort at the center of the inquiry: the secretive shakedown of Ukraine by Mr. Trump and his associates, for the president’s political gain.

And those Americans who tuned in also learned that the Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee have set themselves a degrading task. Rather than engage the facts about Mr. Trump’s Ukrainian escapade, they are twisting them and eliding them and inventing new ones they’d prefer. They spent most of Wednesday stuffing straw men and then ostentatiously knocking them down.

My nomination for the OMG moment.:

Perhaps the most telling remark was offered by a Republican staff lawyer, Stephen Castor, who suggested that while the president’s behavior may have been highly irregular, “it’s not as outlandish as it could be.” Here’s a tip: When “not as outlandish as it could be” is your strongest defense, it’s time to rethink your position.

Charlie Sykes writing at The Bulwark lists “Ten Takeaway Points from Day One.” My abbreviated version with snippets follows.

It went badly for Trump. “The witnesses, William Taylor and George Kent were impressive, succinct, unflappable, and damaging to the president,” …

The GOP questioning was… awful. More that from other sources below.

The bored teenager response is a tactic, but also a tell. “TrumpWorld is loudly complaining that it is already booooooored, by this whole impeachment thing. … indeed, the GOP seemed to do their very best to drain the hearing of drama by making it as confusing and inane as possible. But their efforts to get America to tune out also suggests they understood that the show was not helping their guy.” Even the GOP insiders took exception as exemplified by this tweet: “this is a massive f*ck!ing sh!t show” "no one wants to be here.

It was a bad day for conspiracy theories: “Some of the GOP committee members seemed intent on venturing deep into the rabbit hole of the various conspiracy theories that have been floated about Ukraine.” "Kent was having none of it. As the Washington Post noted, the bow tied diplomat, “emerged as a forceful debunker of some of the most frequently cited assertions and conspiracy theories among Trump’s allies.”

The complaints about “hearsay” were lame. “The complaints also served to remind viewers that Trump is aggressively blocking the testimony of aides who did have direct contact with the president. His obstruction of that testimony is likely to constitute a separate article of impeachment.”

No harm no foul? “ The other threadbare talking point on display was the argument that since the military aid was eventually released there was no harm and therefore no misconduct. Ambassador Taylor seemed to address that directly when he said: “Even as we sit here today, the Russians are attacking Ukrainian soldiers in their own country and have been for the last four years. I saw this on the front line last week; the day I was there a Ukrainian soldier was killed and four were wounded.””

Character matters. Wednesday’s testimony provided the country with a stark choice." - between having our kids grow up to be like Trump or Taylor.

The cringe worthiness of the House GOP was on full display. “What was on display on Capitol Hill on Wednesday was not simply an impeachment inquiry into an unscrupulous president,” writes Peter Wehner. “It was the on-going, deepening complicity and corruption of the party he leads.” And it was embarrassing. John Ratcliffe, who was actually once in line to be named Director of National Intelligence said: “If they impeach President Trump for blackmail or extortion or making threats or demands, they have to call President Trump a liar to do it.”

Well, yes.

Rick Wilson, Editor-At-Large of The Daily Beast, does a caustic number on the House Republicans in All the President’s Fools Couldn’t Put Trump’s ‘Perfect Call’ Together Again Wednesday’s impeachment hearing was a contest of gravitas that the skells, sycophants, and dead-end goons on the committee were bound to lose—and did.

Wednesday’s opening act of the impeachment of Donald J. Trump was only going to end one way for Trump and his defenders, and that was badly.

In the face of two credible, nonpartisan witnesses of unimpeachable character and service, the Trump House Clown Caucus brought their A-game, and instead of changing the dialogue and owning the libs they managed to validate the witnesses, embarrass themselves, and doubtlessly enrage the Audience of One.

You could practically hear him screaming all the way down Pennsylvania Avenue as his allies’ carefully constructed tower of bullshit collapsed under the matter-of-fact, up-the-middle baritone recitation of his plan from men who lived through the Ukraine scandal.

And that was just the beginning of Wilson’s scathing evaluation.

Ambassador Bill Taylor and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent, two experienced government hands, played their roles to perfection. In particular, Taylor’s bravura 41-minute statement was a riveting tick-tock of the why, when, and how of Trump’s attempt to corruptly abuse American power to gain domestic political advantage. Taylor deftly drew a binding timeline that showed the role Rudy Giuliani and Trump cat’s paw Gordon Sondland played in trying to suborn the cooperation of Ukraine’s new government into a false investigation of Joe Biden. George Kent’s knowledge of Ukraine, its politics, and the damage Trump’s efforts wrought was as granular as it was damning.

It was a contest of gravitas that Trump’s skells, sycophants, and dead-end goons on the committee were bound to lose—and did. Jordan, Nunes, and the rest were so overmatched by Taylor and Kent that it was almost laughable.

Jordan, as always, was without a jacket, an appropriately knotted necktie, or a clue. His gotchas didn’t get anything, his predicates were as thin as his combover, and his belief that he’d save the day by talking louder and faster was a flop. He was rattling off “questions” so fast that he sounded like an auctioneer who had discovered the joy of cocaine. …

Trump’s defense and defenders like motor mouth Jordan are not the only GOP casualties as Wednesday’s hearing closed out.

… one element of the Republican show on Day One was the constant repetition of the so-called hearsay defense. In the mayfly world of the Trump GOP, they act as if tomorrow will never come, and Gordon Sondland will never testify. They seem to believe that executive privilege will never be broken or the testimony of others ordered. Democrats need to emphasize that the hearsay question could be easily resolved by letting White House and State Department personnel testify.

The weak link is, of course, Gordon Sondland, who was Trump’s do-boy in Ukraine. He spoke directly to the president, repeatedly. We will discover soon enough the contents of those direct conversations with Trump, including the cover-up call in which Trump ordered him to tell Volker there was no quid pro quo. The consciousness of guilt in that would be evident to even the meanest, dumbest Trump defender. Yes, Devin, I’m looking at you, you dolt.

It was a bad day for Mick Mulvaney and Rudy Giuliani. Both men were implicated very directly in the testimony of both Kent and Taylor. For Giuliani, well, he was everywhere in the testimony, increasing his political radioactivity, and the odds that Trump will be forced to pursue the strategy Republican leaders leaked to Axios on Wednesday morning: framing the entire fiasco as Rudy running his own game in Ukraine and bamboozling an innocent President Trump. The evidence—and again, just on the first day—shows that’s an outrageous lie, and it’s never going to pass the smell test. Trump’s nervousness over Rudy in the wind, broke and angry, is delicious.

Mulvaney, a man with a face like a terrified rodent, has for weeks kept his twitching nose to the wind, smelling the pungent musk of White House predators all around him and knowing that his role is, at best, lunch. Taylor’s direct testimony of a Mulvaney aide confirming the shutoff of Ukraine aid draws yet another line of contact directly back to the Acting Provisional Kinda Chief of Staff and the President. Anyone who thinks a man with Mulvaney’s wee cojones was freelancing, I’d suggest they stop day-drinking. Mulvaney was acting on orders. The line goes to the top.

It was a bad, bad day for Trump. His defenders on the committee came in believing that keeping him, Fox News, and the Republican base happy would save the day. It won’t.